The Song. "City Lights," The White Stripes
"Will you dig a tunnel to me?"
Released in September of last year, this song was written for the "Get Behind Me Satan" album. It's a shame it didn't make the cut, but there's comfort in it making its way to our ears now, eight years since the White Stripe's last formal release. Simple and soothing, the light guitar picking and minimal instrumentation glide under Jack White's distinctive vocals and carry the listener through the song. The music video is also worth a watch. Michel Gondry's unassuming visual work makes for the perfect pairing.
The Artist. Julien Baker
"And I just let the parking lot swallow me up
Choking your tires, and kicking up dust
Asking aloud why you're leaving
But the pavement won't answer me"
Authenticity. Rare to find at times, but when it's there, it can almost be tangibly felt.
I feel it in the words and notes that spill onto each track of Julien Baker's "Sprained Ankle." Each song is stripped down, with only her electric guitar, silvery voice and candid writing to fill the space. There's pain, sincerity, yearning, and even, surrender, as she pours herself in to the nine songs on the record.
I felt her authenticity far before I confirmed it. I normally don't give a detailed account of an artists background when writing of songs or artists I've come to enjoy, but for her, it brings an even deeper level and meaning to her work. After reading through her interviews and watching her performances online, there really is no doubt left in mind: the piercing beauty of her honest craft is as authentic as it gets.
Baker is 21 year old from Memphis, Tennessee, living in the heart of what's consider the Bible Belt of the United States. She had no real intentions of becoming a recognized artist, and was instead studying literature with an emphasis on secondary education when she recorded "Sprained Ankle" with a friend from her college's audio engineering program. There were no expectations and it was never a consideration to create tracks that would sell. I believe this is one reason her honesty shines through.
She was honest about her pain: pain after a break up, pain after years of destructive behavior, and pain in her search to find God and reconcile what it means to be a southern Christian woman who identifies as a lesbian. She doesn't hold back. It's honesty you can feel. And it's honesty that drives through to the heart of the listener.
An unfeigned, transparent creation by a talented artist, "Sprained Ankle" is truly a work of art.
Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn